Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt, new generation at Champagne Laurent-Perrier

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Lucie Pereyre for the civil status, Pereyre de Nonancourt at the office, 32 years old. Grand-daughter of the great man, Bernard de Nonancourt, she arrives in the Laurent-Perrier family estate with infinite humility, she has everything to learn, she knows it, she knows it is long, very long, she is not worried, she goes for it.

Where do you come from, Lucie Pereyre?

From a first life far from wine. I began by studying psychology to work in the humanitarian and social fields. I wanted to be a coach, to actively accompany people in their lives, as they do in the United States. And I realised that I was a bit stuck in a bubble. I lacked the diversity of information I needed to nourish myself and better understand the world. I changed my course of study to a master’s degree in marketing at a business school. A discipline where the psychological dimension is important. There was a link with my previous studies. During a gap year, I worked for an American wine and spirits distributor. It was there, during a tasting, that I had a revelation. This is what I wanted to do.

Obvious, though?

No, I had never thought of working in this field. At first, I wanted to get away from this path. It caught up with me. When I came back from the US, I did my last master’s internship at Pernod-Ricard before going to Spain to work at an estate in Rioja, Marqués de Riscal. During this time, I started training in tasting with the WSET. I obtained the Diploma (level 4). I’m still training, I still have a lot, a lot to learn.

Is Grand Siècle going to separate from Laurent-Perrier, like Dom Pérignon from Moët & Chandon?

No. It was the first wine that my grandfather invented. The objective is to promote this cuvée, this work, by assigning a team to ensure its even greater success. That’s why I was appointed. To take care of Grand Siècle, to better express its identity, its development and its unique concept. Symbolically, this mission had a special meaning for me.

Where does the work begin?

The idea is to explain the iterations in more depth to give them content. The iteration number, located on the collar, should tell the story of my grandfather’s ideal. That of recreating the style of this cuvée, through time, beyond the vintage, every time. When it was created, there was no need to explain this. The world has changed. The consumer wants to know everything about every cuvée. Our job is to make these explanations accessible. We mention the vintages present in the blend and the proportion of each vintage that makes up each iteration. The consumer is looking for more information. We need to find a solution to talk about the vintages without getting stuck in a pattern by mentioning them on the label. Thanks to this information, Grand Siècle enthusiasts can now compare the iterations with each other.

Iteration?

This word comes from iterare, which means path. In mathematics, it means to repeat a process, like the Grand Siècle style through time despite different blends. There have been twenty-four iterations in sixty years. This year, for Grand Siècle, there are three signatures. Iteration n°24, in bottle, is a blend of the 2007, 2006 and 2004 vintages. Iteration n°22, in magnum, and also Les Réserves, only in magnum and in jeroboam. We keep the magnums a little longer in the cellar, fifteen years against twelve for the bottles. Our first approach is to develop the reputation of this label. In the world of prestige cuvées, it is certainly among the least known by wine lovers.

Grand Siècle, is it signed by de Gaulle?

My grandfather submitted a list of different names, including Grand Siècle, to General de Gaulle for his opinion. The General said to him: “Grand Siècle, Nonancourt, of course! Bernard de Nonancourt was in the Resistance, under the command of General Leclerc. It was his mother, my great-grandmother, who bought the Laurent-Perrier house in 1939. At the end of the war, my grandfather started from scratch, concentrating on the vineyard and the style of wine, based on chardonnay at a time when everyone else was making pinot noir. As the house was not very well known, he had the opportunity to create the style he liked, based on purity, elegance and freshness. Pinot Noir did not give him what he was looking for, whereas Chardonnay allowed him to have the straight and long acidity he wanted so that his champagnes could be drunk as aperitifs and with very little dosage. It was he who invented the brut nature category, with the cuvée Ultra Brut, even if the house archives show the existence of a great wine without dosage. However, and depending on the iterations, Grand Siècle is dosed at between 6 and 7 grams per litre. Chardonnay is always in the majority, supplemented by pinot noir. Iteration n°23 should be launched at the end of the year, in magnum only.

Is it easy for you to arrive in the family estate?

Everyone welcomed me with open arms. But there is a challenge, a lot is expected of us, of the family. At the moment, Bernard de Nonancourt’s vision is still there. There is also admiration. I try to follow this vision and perpetuate it. I like this style and what he tried to put in place. It’s easy for me, it’s not heavy. When my grandfather created Grand Siècle, he wanted to establish Laurent-Perrier among the great houses. For this prestigious cuvée, the starting point was to say that nature never gives a perfect oenological year. Through blending, we can manage to recreate it. He was a pioneer in his category.

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